Holiday lights don't have to short circuit the seasonal budget, according to regional and national energy experts. As a low-energy showcase, representatives from Florida Power & Light once decorated a small South Florida home for an additional cost of just $1 for the holiday season running from Thanksgiving through New Year's Day. Money-saving solutions included the use of solar, battery-operated or LED holiday lights. Alternative or energy-saving sources enable you to reduce your carbon footprint and holiday budget.
LED lights, sold by traditional retail outlets and local utility companies, cost more than standard holiday lights. But LEDs can reduce energy costs by up to 98 percent. And due to lower energy costs, LED lights can pay for themselves after three holiday seasons, according to energy data.
LED light bulbs use 10 times less energy than standard incandescent light bulbs. You can find LED lights fashioned into icicles, tree lights, snowmen and other holiday figures, according to FPL. As an added bonus, LED lights are safer to operate because they generate significantly less heat than standard bulbs.
Other low-cost, eco-friendly alternatives include solar lights, which draw free energy from the sun during the day and glow at night.
"Consider changing out driveway lighting with solar-powered lights to make your home a festive and energy-efficient oasis year round," recommend FPL experts.
The Department of Energy provides a free publication about solar energy called Get Your Power from the Sun, which is available at www.energy.gov. For additional energy-saving tips, the Alliance to Save Energy, a Washington, D.C.-based energy coalition, offers energy-saving solutions for the holidays. Here are a few:
Set your timers. Limit light displays to six hours every evening. "Leaving lights on 24 hours a day will quadruple your energy costs and create four times the pollution," according to a statement from the Alliance.
Use power strips. Wherever possible, connect your lights to a power strip, which allows you to easily shut down lights before bedtime and whenever you are away from home. This process will save power and money.
Find low-tech touches. "Supplement your holiday displays with ornaments such as wreaths, ribbons and other decorations that don't consume energy," FPL suggests.